Olivia Colman among 1300 actors condemning Scream 7 firing as ‘censorship’ in open letter

Olivia Colman is among 1,300 actors and artists who have signed a letter accusing cultural institutions across Western countries of censoring those speaking out on behalf of Palestine, with Melissa Barrera’s recent firing from the forthcoming Scream 7 listed among the incidents.

On Thursday (30 November), Artists for Palestine UK published a letter addressing the Arts and Culture Sector urging them to “uphold the right to freedom of expression and to uphold their commitment to anti-discrimination”.

Several other high-profile celebrities, including Succession’s Harriet Walter, Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood and Derry Girls’ Siobhán McSweeney, joined The Crown star, 49, in signing the letter.

The letter identifies a list of incidents that they argue exemplify the systematic “silencing and stigmatising [of] Palestinian voices and perspectives” by many cultural institutions in Western countries.

“This includes targeting and threatening the livelihoods of artists and arts workers who express solidarity with Palestinians, as well as cancelling performances, screenings, talks, exhibitions and book launches,” it added.

In late November, Barrera, 33, was dropped from the iconic slasher franchise after Scream 7’s production company, Spyglass Media, found the actor’s Instagram posts about the Israel-Hamas war crossed “the line into hate speech”.

“Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech,” a Spyglass spokesperson told The Independent.

Olivia Colman and Melissa Barrera in ‘Scream 7’ (Getty Images and Paramount Pictures)
Olivia Colman and Melissa Barrera in ‘Scream 7’ (Getty Images and Paramount Pictures)

Barrera’s co-star Jenna Ortega exited the sequel shortly after the actor’s firing.

Additional incidents listed in the letter include the cancellation of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei’s London exhibition after he expressed his opinion about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in a since-deleted tweet.

“There is no place for debate that can be characterised as anti-Semitic or Islamophobic at a time when all efforts should be on ending the tragic suffering in Israeli and Palestinian territories, as well as in communities internationally,” Lisson Gallery said in a statement to Hyperallergic at the time.

“The struggle for freedom from racism for Palestinians and Jews is one of collective liberation. We refuse to pit one community against the other, and stand firmly against all forms of racism including Islamophobia and antisemitism,” the letter concludes.

“In the spirit of justice, equality, and the shared values of the arts, we urge you to take a principled stance.”